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MMA Thoughts: Jon Jones

Last week I had the pleasure of doing an interview with respected journalist and author Jonathan Snowden. During that interview I asked him this question:

Jon Jones is surely the biggest waste of talent ever. He seems oblivious that he needs to change.

I found his reply very interesting, he said this:

“I don’t agree. Jones is the among the most successful fighters of all time. I don’t see wasted talent there. He had a record-setting run as light heavyweight champion”

Jones, of course, has had many problems during his UFC career, legal and USADA related issues and his current problems with USADA could leave him facing a potential two or even a four year ban, but even if he never ever fights again, Jones has to be fair to him, achieved plenty in a pro career which started all the way back in 2008.

Going 9-0 in the early part of his career including fighting at UFC 100, Jones looked the real deal, a disqualification loss to Matt Hamill due to illegal elbows in his 10th fight is the only blemish on his record. A big win over fellow prospect Ryan Bader at UFC 126 earned Jones a title shot with Shogun Rua at UFC 128 in March 2011. Jones handled Shogun with relative ease and the 3rd round stoppage gave him the UFC light heavyweight title in only his 14th fight. Jones defended his title with wins over Rampage, Machida, Evans, Belfort and Sonnen before a life and death struggle with Alexander Gustafsson in 2013 very nearly brought the Jones era to an end.

Jones admitted afterwards he hardly trained for the Gustafsson fight, and the first real signs of problems emerged.  Glover Teixeira and then arch-rival Daniel Cormier were defeated. But then the problems really started for Jones which have been well documented.

Despite the long periods away from the sport, Jones holds the record for the most title defences, 8, in UFC light heavyweight history, and those 8 successful defences place him 3rd in any weight division.

So yes to call Jones the biggest waste of talent is perhaps a little too simplistic, probably a fairer assessment is, he has achieved plenty, but could and should have achieved so much more.